Right after I knew I was accepted to Binghamton University, I was ecstatic but then I started to worry about my new life in the United States. How would I get to the U.S. from China? Where would I live? How could I adapt to new surroundings? The admission letter had given me huge sense of accomplishment, and a list of worries, too.
Fortunately, the next day, the Chinese Students & Scholars Association (CSSA) reached out to me. They told me that they could arrange my ride from the airport, and they would also provide me with temporary housing. I was overwhelmed by the help I was receiving from all these other Chinese students, who at that point were total strangers to me. Their willingness to lend me a hand washed away my worries and really made my day.
Once I arrived in the U.S. and got settled down, I started to notice the new environment and became very excited about it. I saw new buildings, taxis, and a whole set of items that I had only seen in American movies and TV shows. Perhaps what impressed me the most was the yellow cab in New York City, which I’d seen a million times in movies. I also found myself surprised by the fact that JFK airport provided passengers with iPad for entertainment before boarding.
People here were very friendly. Strangers here would smile and say hello to me when I walked down the street. This simple fact made me believe I would feel comfortable while living in America. Some of the other comforts I found in the U.S. included an Asian food store that had special seasonal veggies and snacks. I would visit the store frequently in the afternoons because it made me feel relaxed.
My first semester at Binghamton started one week after my arrival. Most of the students in my class were Americans, which made me eager to explore their culture. I wanted to find an easy way to assimilate into American culture, and I found some information on Binghamton’s International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) website. One of the programs I found was the Friendship Family Program (FFP), which pairs up international students with local residents to help the students immerse in American culture.
Joining the FFP program, I was partnered with a librarian. She was enthusiastic and very nice. She would take me out to local restaurants and shopping centers while explaining American culture to me. One Thanksgiving Day, she invited me home for a big Thanksgiving dinner with her friends and family. Honestly, I am not a big fan of America food, but that dinner was beyond my expectation! It was completely homemade, which us international students rarely got a chance to try. To me, the taste wasn’t that important, and what inspired me was the culture and the way American people celebrate their traditions. I was very glad that my partner invited me and shared with me that culturally important moment. We have kept in touch over the years through email and phone calls.
Studying abroad is never an easy thing. Fortunately, so many warmhearted people have helped me during my transitions from China to the U.S., who I may never be able to repay. But I’ve decided to take their spirit and help other newcomers like the person I once was. I am really grateful that I got an opportunity to work in The Graduate School at Binghamton University as an admission assistant. My responsibilities are to assist prospective students with their applications and answer their questions regarding our school and on-campus life. I also collaborate with the staff in other offices to help them speed up admission process.
Every time I looked back at my experiences, I feel so thankful that I chose to come here. They have made me understand myself much more, and offered great guidance for my future.
Lu (Claire) is currently pursuing her master’s degree in accounting at Binghamton University. She has been in the U.S. for 4 years and has earned her bachelor’s degree in finance.